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  1. #1
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada fretman's Avatar
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    I have a 24-speed mountain bike with a pair of semi-slicks. I usually leave the big gear at 2 and the small gear I shift between 4 and 7. So I'm going along easy pedalling away on my local bike path when another mountain biker blows by me. Then I see that he's pedalling at half the speed that I'm pedalling and he's really pulling away from me. I shift the small gear to 8 (maximum) and my pedalling speed slows down and I'm picking up some distance but the guy is still pedalling slower than me and still pulling away from me at the same time.

    I want to know how he does it. I want to pedal less and gain more distance. I want to be efficient too.

  2. #2
    Tom (ex)Builder twahl's Avatar
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    Greatest efficiency is actually at higher cadence. Pedalling taller gears, meaning going faster while pedalling slower, is obviously more difficult, but it's also hard on your knees. Sounds like maybe you could be using the lower end of your biggest chainring, but don't overdo it, you'll suffer in the long run for it. You should, over time, be able to push taller gears as you get stronger.
    Tom

    "It hurts so good..."

  3. #3
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    I hate to be the one to tell you this, but it's not about the bike. It's the motor.

  4. #4
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    Yeppers...If that guy can "mash" big gears, he's just strong. Watch pro racers sometime. You'll see smaller-gear high-rpm "spinners" and low-rpm big-gear "mashers". Armstrong and Ullrich are good examples of both. A lot depends on your actual physiology as well. Some folks have a higher percentage of slow-twitch muscle fibers. Strong, but not too quick. If you have a lot of fast-twitch fibers, then it's the other way around.
    Most people are pretty well balanced. There's also the issue of body size and leg length and all that. Big guys have a hard time standing on the pedals and dancing up hills like the little gnat-sized riders do.

    Just work on improving your general fitness and technique and you'll discover where you feel most comfortable.

  5. #5
    Pat
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikewer
    Yeppers...If that guy can "mash" big gears, he's just strong. Watch pro racers sometime. You'll see smaller-gear high-rpm "spinners" and low-rpm big-gear "mashers". Armstrong and Ullrich are good examples of both. A lot depends on your actual physiology as well. Some folks have a higher percentage of slow-twitch muscle fibers. Strong, but not too quick. If you have a lot of fast-twitch fibers, then it's the other way around.
    Most people are pretty well balanced. There's also the issue of body size and leg length and all that. Big guys have a hard time standing on the pedals and dancing up hills like the little gnat-sized riders do.

    Just work on improving your general fitness and technique and you'll discover where you feel most comfortable.

    I think you are a bit off on your quick twitch and slow twitch muscles. Quick twitch muscles are for explosive power and no endurance. Quick twitch fibers work anaerobically. Quick twitch events are weight lifting, shot put, american football, 100 yard dash, sprints, that sort of thing.

    Slow twitch muscle fibers work aerobically so they are like the energizer bunny, they keep going and going and going. Slow twitch events are any long duration aerobic event like marathons, iron man, centuries etc.

    Now I have seen cyclists with endurance who are spinners and some who are mashers. I mean Lance Armstrong is a spinner and Ulrich is a masher but both guys certainly have endurance. Spinning and mashing must be determined by something else other than just the type of muscle fiber.

  6. #6
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    fretman-

    I'm on a new 21 speed Trek 820 mtb - running FatBoy slicks

    I generally think of #1 Chainring as climbing - 2 for "normal" - 3 for smooth & downhill pavement

    useful is my Cateye Astrale 8 computer with cadence - to get my pedalling RPM up I generally pedal between 70 & 100, and have learned that this is optimum. I think that knowing your cadence helps you know when you could benefit by shifting.

    A buddy of mine just uses his middle chainring - and I'm sure he's missing out.

    Peter

  7. #7
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    He was fitter, so was probably "cruising".

    Keep riding, you'll get fitter and wil be able to push higher gears with much less effort.

    All it takes is time and effort - let us know this time next year

    good luck

  8. #8
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada fretman's Avatar
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    Thanks to all for the great advice. I'll keep everything in mind the next time I hit the bike paths.

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